National Eating Disorders Association

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Boyfriend suffers from eating disorder

My boyfriend suffers from an eating disorders. He went into treatment a little over 2 years ago and when we meet in January he let me know what he had been through. He got his weight up from a certain amount when we first met but then in the last 2 1/2 months he has lost weight. He does not do the binge and purge like he did prior to treatment but sees himself as fat. He is also a Police Lieutenant and I am so frustrated lately with what to do. I try to tell him for his job he needs to put the weight back on. If he continues this downward spiral he will lose his job as they let him go on light duty last a few years ago for the treatment. All he will eat are nutrition supplement bars and shakes and doesn't take in many calories a day plus wants to work out multiple times a week. I try to be as supportive as possible. I also told him recently I think he needs to go back to the support group meetings he was helping but he informed me he is tired of talking and thinking about his eating disorder. The last real meal he had was a while ago and I can barely get him to eat a real meal.

Taking responsibility.

One of the hard things to learn about EDs is that we can't really force our loved ones to do anything. This is a pretty frustrating reality, but it kind of is the framework that we need to work within.

One positive thing in all this is that your BF is not clueless about what's going on. He's been to treatment in the past, and no matter how he ended up feeling about it at the time, it's likely that he did have to face up to some things.

You are right of course, when it comes to him needing to do his meetings again, but I suspect that he's telling the literal truth when he says that he's "tired of thinking about his eating disorder." Because if you talk much with people who have EDs, that really is one of the difficulties they will talk about a lot : How tired they are of the fact than so much of their waking life, and the space in their brain, is being taken up by thinking about food.

Which is kind of is what happens with people's thoughts when they are restricting all the time.

But I suspect he also understands that he's not going to free himself of these thoughts and obsessions by just trying to sweep it all under the rug. He's been through this before, so he probably has a pretty good idea of how things can go.

And really, if he continues to loose, it's one of those things that he will have to confront sooner or later. And he probably knows that too. In some back corner of his mind, I mean. Or maybe more towards the front than it seems ?

But yes, our first instinct as a person who cares is to try and point out all the trouble they may find themselves in, if they continue down the path that they are going. But maybe you see how well that approach is working ? Not always very well sometimes.

"I can understand where it might be hard to know how to approach all this, given your experiences in the past."

Something like that might feel more supportive to him ? Like you are trying to put yourself in his shoes, you know ?

Bob J.